Indie Chris: A Dream Evolved

Indie Chris and His Mother

Chris Campbell was born and raised in Nashville, the music hotbed of Tennessee. The only problem is he wasn’t looking to make country music, he’s a hip hopper. He released a handful of mixtapes leading up to his debut album Still Life A Look Deeper…. But, his home town’s hip hop scene, while holding its own, could only take him so far.

Chris enjoyed a certain degree of success with his music. But even so, he and his mother were struggling. Motivated by the desire to free his mother from the oppression of poverty, Chris knew he had to make moves. He set up a week-long tour on the west coast. Before he left for tour, his mother unexpectedly fell ill. The tour was tinged bittersweet. He got a glimmer of the success he always dreamed of but had to turn his back to it. He wouldn’t leave his mother behind, even if it was to take the path to financial stability.

Not long after his return, his mother passed. His dream of residential stability was hallowed by her absence. But sometimes in heartbreak, we find great strength. Chris set his sights higher still, deciding only hours after her passing that it was time to take his career to the next level. Subsistence was no longer the goal, he wanted success outright. If for no other reason than to honor his mother’s memory. He packed up and moved to LA.

This is the story of Chris Campbell, but you’d never hear it from him. The keeper of this tale is Indie Chris who reserves its telling for “A Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” My few words do not do the story justice. I’m not sure any narrative can capture in full all the emotions that come with such loss. Let this be your introduction to the album and the album your introduction to the narrative in full. While his second release, I see this as an origin story of sorts. As such, “A Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is just the beginning.

Who is Chris Campbell and how does he differ from Indie Chris?

Indie Chris is an extension of myself that tells you stories through music Chris Campbell would not openly share. If you want to know everything about Chris Campbell then you should really pay attention to the lyrics of Indie Chris, I leave nothing out in my music.

What three tracks convey your unique brand of hip hop?

There are things in my DNA as an artist that have to be there for it to be an Indie Chris track. I love sampling myself and random records. I love the art of being an emcee and manipulating words. I love using different songwriting techniques.

On “A Long Day’s Journey Into Night” I was mixing different genres together to make something I had never done before. The three tracks that I think represent that the most are “Tripisode,” “Know What’s Real,” and “Prototype.” I’m actually working on a music video treatment for “Prototype” right now.

What is the concept for the video?

Now that I live in LA I want to use every landscape and expansive space that’s here to my advantage. I want to show how far I’ve come as an artist in being able to make it out to LA and continue the dream. From being homeless with my mom multiple times throughout my life to where I’m at now is so crazy to think about. I take nothing for granted. Sometimes I feel like my music is made for the underdogs and I want to show what that looks like in the “Prototype” video. “Friday Night Lights” is another song I can’t wait to show in video form because it shares that same theme.

Do you think artists have any obligation to build up the city that raised them?

I think we do. The artists from Nashville, TN definitely feel that constant need to put the city’s Hip Hop scene on another level. I saw it constantly… I heard it constantly… But where are the actions of taking it to the next level? In my city, it was so frustrating to watch some of the most talented individuals in the world not consistently go full force.

Now that I live in Los Angeles I know what it truly means to go hard. Right now I work and intern for people that are involved with some of the most successful things going on in the industry so I see what that work ethic looks like. You have to be all in to make things happen! If you’re all in for your city, eventually your city is going to have to pay attention to you. So, in my opinion, it starts with the artists.

Tell me more about the time you spent homeless. How did you escape that state?

That shit was insane. I think about this one night on a weekly basis. My mom and I couldn’t get a room somewhere and I thought we were about to have to start planning out what bridge we were going to be under smh… I just kept thinking, “how am I going to get out of this?” I couldn’t see us getting into a place where anyone would let us move in without background checking us too much. This had been like our 4th time in this state of living and I just had enough.

I told her there would not be another year like this. Thankfully, before we hit street/bridge level of being homeless, there was a renter who let us move in. We began the process of getting back on our feet from there. But some of the nights I went through… I mentally wouldn’t wish that on anybody. I hope to be able to give back to the homeless in some way once I reach a certain place in my career.

Was your mom supportive of your art?

Always! She was the biggest supporter of everything I did. Every successful thing that is happening to me is very bittersweet because she was the person I was doing everything for. In my mind, I was trying to reach a certain level so I can take her from that world of stress and poverty. I miss her a lot and it’s going to be hard to not see her in the audience when I start performing again.

What is your motivation now that she has passed?

To accomplish every single dream and opportunity that she wasn’t able to while she was here. I literally have nothing to lose anymore and that’s why I moved to LA. I wanted to see what I was made of. All that crazy stuff I went through with poverty, being homeless, evictions, lights being off for months, water being off for months… the patience and the will you have to have to make it out of all that… I use every single experience I’ve been throughout here in LA and I’m going to make it as far as I want to take it because of it.

How do you want your mom to be remembered?

As an amazing woman that was dealt a crazy deck of cards, but she made the best out of what she was given. A very loving woman that sacrificed a lot for me to do everything I have been able to do.

What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome in making A Long Day’s Journey Into Night?

Making it sonically better than my last project “Still Life… A Look Deeper”. I wanted the writing to be better. I wanted the cohesiveness of the story to make sense. For it to seem as if it was made in a professional studio and not my home recording studio. And to be able to do that is way more difficult than how I made it sound lol… I’d say that project took about 6-8 months to finish.

Explain the title of the album.

At first “A Long Day’s Journey Into Night” was a behind the scenes look at the life of Indie Chris. What does it look like before you see Indie Chris touch the stage? But then once my mom passed I wrote “Don’t Go.” I knew exactly where I was taking the record and what the album title really meant to me. A Long Day’s Journey Into Night is a way of saying, “A long journey before my mother was laid to rest or sleep; and the story of that journey.” That’s what the album title really meant to me and I just started forming every other song around that concept.

What’s next for Indie Chris?

I really want to put out a ton of music videos for this project, might even shoot stuff for my older projects. I definitely want to show what this album means to me visually. I’m also working on music for my next project entitled, “The Blue Light District.” No set date for that yet but I’m already seeing it take shape. I just want to get better as an artist in this industry. I’m excited to see where the future takes me.

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Ian Lunn

"Little things are big things to mice"

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